Some Thoughts on Earl Ofari's "Marxism, Nationalism, and Black Liberation"


  • Stephen Torgoff
  • Earl Ofari



Race, Inequality


Earl Ofari's discussion (MR, March 1971, pp. 18-33) of the insensitivity of most American Marxists to the national question is an extremely valuable summary of a thoroughly scandalous history. Just as privileged position and racist ideology are the shame of the white section of the proletariat, and its fatal weakness, so also the failure of white Marxists to understand the importance of the national question is the historical root of American "Marxist" revisionism and opportunism. However, this is a failure of Marxists, not of Marxism. The point is not that Marxism-Leninism was unable to explain the function of racism and privilege within the working class, but rather that most white Marxists have been so blinded by these factors that they were unable to understand the Marxism that they asserted. The counter-example of W.E.B. DuBois makes this clear. Just as the existence of slave labor and white privilege blocked the full proletarianization of the white sector of the working class, so also these factors blocked the full development of an American Marxism-Leninism. Racism has crippled the American proletariat in its ideology as well as in its practice.